Nearly four years since his last appearance in the National Hockey League, Darren Archibald’s career seemed to be at a crossroads. Seven years as an undrafted pro, 356 games in the American Hockey League and another 75 in the East Coast League, numerous injuries including a fractured cheekbone last fall, and here was Archibald, about to turn 28, playing for the Utica Comets on a minor-league contract. This was not the career the winger from Newmarket, Ont., envisioned for himself when he finally earned a professional contract from the Vancouver Canucks in 2011 as a free agent out of the Ontario Hockey League. During the AHL all-star break in late January, a moment of clarity came to Archibald. He should get married. Archibald proposed to his girlfriend, Lindsay Yannacacos, who is in university back in Toronto. “First the engagement, then the contract,” Archibald says, sitting in the Canucks’ dressing room and marvelling at his good fortune. “And it was my 28th birthday the day I played my first game (back in the NHL). It’s definitely been an exciting time.” It still is. Five games into the rest of his life, Archibald is averaging 14 minutes of ice time for the Canucks, who after another wave of injuries on their last road trip rushed to sign Archibald to an NHL contract and put him in their lineup Feb. 9 in Carolina.